FPF has helped people find their cats, dogs, keys, wallets, and even livestock, but this is a new one. Carol in Burlington writes…
“Our little iRobot vacuum cleaner was cleaning off our porch and wandered down the ramp and perhaps down the driveway. It’s a robot vacuum cleaner about 3-4 inches tall and about 12-14 inch diameter. It is grey and black. Now he is MIA. If you saw our little friend please let us know.“
“Yea, Front Porch Forum is the best! To the person who saw the [post] about our missing vacuum cleaner and showed his friend, who had found it, our previous post – thanks! You both are awesome for returning it to us. Roomba, aka “Creepy,” is now grounded. Bad robot. Great neighbors, however.“
Neighbors engage in productive, meaningful discussions every day on Front Porch Forum in communities all across Vermont. In addition to finding lost dogs, selling used bikes, and recommending mechanics, FPF is a popular place to tackle local issues in respectful and neighborly ways.
For example, Connie shared on her Williston Forum this week…
“I am very grateful to FPF for allowing all of us the opportunity to vent mutual concerns and come together as a group to discuss potential ways to resolve these shared concerns. Thank you FPF!!! I now don’t feel alone in my discontent and I have learned new ways to address the USPS issues. Our shared concerns matter. Let’s keep communicating!”
Leslie Stebbins was quoted in a recent Salon article, “Our digital public spaces aren’t so healthy… Can we fix that?” (read full article here) that…
“Tech companiesmaintain that they cannot moderate online communities because that would jeopardize our right to free speech and because there is simply too much content flying across these networks to track. Both these issues are false flags. We now know that the core infrastructure of these platforms is intentionally designed to amplify vitriol and misinformation because this increases engagement, keeps us online longer, and provides tech companies with billions of dollars from ad revenue. It doesn’t have to be this way.“
Further, Stebbins adds, “We should focus on creating new spaces that have explicit civic goals and are designed for equity and social cohesion. Real-world communities need to be involved in intentionally designing their own local digital public spaces rather than leaving this work to global tech companies.”
Front Porch Forum gets a nice spotlight in the article…
“Front Porch Forum […] focuses on real world community building. It is the antithesis of Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter. Rather than try to keep users online, it strives to get people offline and more connected to their local Vermont neighbors. Most people spend five or ten minutes a day online to get news that their neighbors have posted: lost dogs, bake sales and announcements of upcoming school board meetings. It is funded by donations and local ads based on where someone lives, but it does not track user behavior and advertising does not drive platform design.“
“Independent research on Front Porch [Forum] shows that it builds social cohesion and is improving the resilience of local Vermont communities. Building stronger community cohesion produces many intangible benefits such as high civic engagement, more instances of neighbors helping neighbors, and lower crime rates.“
Everyday across Vermont, neighbors come together to fix problems, have fun, talk, and share. Increasingly, they use their local Front Porch Forum to get the conversation started. Here are some recent examples…
In Essex Town and Essex Junction this week, neighbors are meeting at the local police station to organize neighborhood watches in response to property crime incidents. Notices for this meeting reached 10,377 FPF members out of the 9,310 households in these communities!
In Charlotte, folks there are using their FPF to organize a backgammon league. The member’s posting below reached 4,037 FPF members in a town with 1,499 households!
“Yahoo!…FPF is terrific for connecting with neighbors. So far we have 23 people on the list of backgammon players eager to launch a league at the Charlotte Senior Center!” – Sally
In Morrisville, one neighbor is looking to find a local running group. Shannon’s posting reached 4,852 FPF members in a town with 2,810 households!
“Hello! I am new to Morrisville, and am looking to connect with other runners. Are there any established running groups in the area?”– Shannon
How about in your town or neighborhood? Any new hobbies or meetups popping up? If you’re trying to get people together, Join FPF (if you don’t already have a free account)! Click compose and post your message to nearby neighbors.
Two days before Christmas, Vermont braced itself for a Nor’easter. The storm brought snow, ice, rain, and strong winds taking out power in many parts of the state. In Middlesex the Town Clerk turned to Front Porch Forum to share daily emergency info and updates.
Later, members wrote in applauding their Town Clerk and all the utility workers that got them through the storm. We’re impressed by all of them, too! Here are some highlights…
Appreciation for the Town Clerk: “Many thanks, Sarah! Aren’t we Middlesexers (?) Middlesexites (?) fortunate to have a Town Clerk who is always watching out for us? The link she just sent provides a wealth of information to help us understand what we’re facing with the coming storm. It’s scary, but Sarah has made sure we’re prepared. Brava!” •Jeri
Appreciation for utility workers: “Sending a HUGE shout out to the Washington Electric Coop crews who worked through a horrible stretch of weather to get power back to 5,000+ customers in our region. It’s easy to take the luxury of our electricity for granted… until you lose it for nearly 2 days. For those without any back-up heat, this must have been brutal. Thank you, thank you WEC and Merry Christmas to all!” •Linda
Appreciation for neighbors: “Thank you to our wonderful neighbors. I received several offers of help to get through the time until we have electric again. We were able to secure quite a number of gallons of water today so we could do dishes and flush the toilet probably for the next couple of days and hopefully by then we will have electricity. Once again, we are very grateful for all of the offers of help we received” •Carol
Appreciation for FPF: “Thanks for being there for our community. It sure has been a lifesaver for some during the power outages in Middlesex.” •Another FPF member
We are always impressed to see how neighbors come together to navigate difficult situations. Storms like these are what FPF and Vermont community is for!
Kindness is no stranger to Front Porch Forum‘s members. Every day we see neighbors posting appreciation for the people in their community. We’re sharing a few recent stories of gratitude this week. We are grateful for all the people making neighborly connections happen. ♡ Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Today a large tree fell across our steep, twisty driveway. Carey, a friend and neighbor, offered to send her husband to clear the obstruction. A new neighbor, Doug, followed me up the driveway and attempted to move the tree. Eight hours later, Dakota and Andrew, a young couple and future neighbors, skillfully attacked the tree and opened up access for us. Our gratitude to all of them for demonstrating the kindness and neighborliness that makes Vermont a special place to live. • William in St. Johnsbury
Thanks to all the folks who had seen hubcaps in the area, I got mine back! Yay for FPF!!! • Sue in East Montpelier
Many thanks to all who reached out to provide a dog crate for my daughter’s visiting puppy! I have secured a crate for the week (and actually longer)! I am grateful to live in such a giving community where people reach out just to lend a hand. It’s a good start for Thanksgiving. • Terry in Randolph
A couple weeks back I requested donations for a young couple that is new to the area, relocated from the deep south. They’ve never experienced winter in New England before. The donations were dropped off to them and they are warm and cozy as can be while navigating daily life with snow! Thank you so much to everybody who reached out and orchestrated getting donations to them, the generosity from this community is outstanding. • Tanya in Randolph
Cara in the Town of Halifax recently posted the following on her local Front Porch Forum when a neighbor suggested banning political speech on FPF. We love her perspective on this. Read on…
Some postings on FPF concern politics at every level – local (like the 5-person board discussion), state (Article 22) and national (names of parties). FPF *is* a place to have these discussions – there is, after all, a standard category called “election.”
The people in our small communities all share certain values – the ones that lead people who were born here to stay and that lead people who weren’t born here to make it their home.
But we don’t all share the same views, not by a long stretch. The value of FPF is that it makes it possible to find common ground and discover you like or respect people despite the fact that you may wildly disagree on issues.
That’s missing in so many parts of our lives. Let’s not strip it out of FPF, too.
I’ll recommend an episode of the podcast Revisionist History to illustrate the point. It’s hosted by Malcolm Gladwell (FN: If you don’t like him, no worries – I never did before either but it’s a terrific podcast, not glib like so much of his writing). The episode is called “When Will Met Grace” (FN: if you never liked the show, no worries – I never did either but the episode made me appreciate it). Gladwell notes that the show was hated by ultra conservatives and ultra progressives alike. But the show was on one of the four TV networks we all watched, and that resulted in it having a demonstrably moderating effect on private lives and on the national conversation.
Unfortunately, it’s so easy to avoid these days. Nowadays, people think they’re achieving that same goal by watching both Fox News and MSNBC, or reading the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. But consuming two extremes isn’t the same as consuming something shared in the middle.
That’s why I love FPF. It doesn’t permit anonymous posts. It’s limited to folks who have planted themselves in a small geographic area. And, most importantly, it caters to everything from lost cats to roofer recommendations to crime reports to asking for help to stack wood to, yes, politics. I like that it’s everything – because in that way, it has the capacity to have a moderating effect on all of our lives in all sorts of ways. I know for a fact that it’s helped me forge a sense of connection and community with people I wouldn’t otherwise have had an opportunity to meet or know if we all veered off into our political silos. Knowing that we have such wildly divergent views on things is important because it’s part of what makes the connection so valuable and ultimately, gives me hope.
We can only control our own conduct. If I don’t jibe with a particular person in the community or with certain views and it bothers me to see some posts? The answer isn’t to tell people to be quiet. The answer is for me to decide I don’t want to listen. But I do listen and I know from personal experience that my world is richer as a result.
I hope everyone will feel free to keep posting and keep all of these conversations going. I agree there’s no room here for hateful political or personal attacks, but just because a view is expressed that one doesn’t agree with doesn’t make it hateful.